Letter: Selling democracy
Wednesday 16 September 1998
Sir: Peter Bazalgette's piece on party political broadcasts ("Open the airwaves and let the tub-thumpers pay for it", 8 September) deserves a quick and dismissive response. He believes that parties - and I assume candidates - should be made to pay for airtime simply because party political broadcasts are often boring. Wittily he calls PPBs "Mogadon movies".
If Peter Bazalgette looks half a kilometre down the road he advocates he should see that it leads to the demise of democracy. The cost is simply gigantic, the inevitable Faustian bargain struck. Paying for airtime endangers democracy by ruling out candidates unwilling to repay donations with political or economic favour. The history remains to be written on just why Ronald Reagan was so obsessed with Nicaragua - surely not those wealthy backers with Nicaraguan interests?
Right now Al Gore could lose his shot at the presidency because of the Attorney General's proposed investigation into Democratic fund-raising activity in the Clinton/Gore re-election campaign two years ago.
Equally anti-democratic is the fact that the cost of purchasing television time hammers women and minorities, who generally have less access to huge sums of money.
Nor does party political broadcasting have to be Valium viewing - I didn't think the John Cleese one was so bad.
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